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WNBA ALL-STAR GAME Swoopes leads West to 6th win



Published: Sun, July 10, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The East has never won in the series.

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) -- The sixth WNBA All-Star game had something for everyone: off-the chart scoring, a dunk, horseplay and even a tearful reunion.

The only thing missing Saturday was a win for the East.

Behind veteran Sheryl Swoopes, the West ran its record to 6-0, beating the East 122-99 in the highest scoring All-Star game in WNBA history.

"I told our team I wanted to get 100," East coach Mike Thibault said. "I didn't mean the other team."

Largest margin of victory

Swoopes had 15 points, most of them in the first half to get the West out to solid start. It was the West's largest margin of victory, and East's highest point total.

With 11 Olympians in the game, the high score was almost a given. But it was the impromptu slam-dunk contest in the closing seconds that brought the sellout crowd of 9,168 at the Mohegan Sun Arena to its feet.

Detroit's Deanna Nolan, a 6-foot guard, made a couple runs at a dunk, soaring to the basket from a wide-open lane and narrowly missing both shots.

It took 6-5 Lisa Leslie, the first woman to dunk in the league, to finally nail it down. The Los Angeles center's one-handed slam with 17 seconds remaining wound up being the final points of the game.

"You've got a lot of points on the board. You've got rebounds, you've got a dunk. What more do you want?," West coach Anne Donovan said.

How about a heartwarming reunion?

Off court reunion

For East reserve Taj McWilliams-Franklin, of Connecticut, the highlight of her day was off the court. Her husband, Reggie Franklin, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, surprised her in the second half with an early homecoming. Franklin, who is stationed in Italy, was due to arrive next week.

After a long, tearful embrace near the East bench, he made his way into the stands where their 2 1/2-year-old daughter was waiting.

"He's a sweet man and I'm very lucky to have him in my life," McWilliams-Franklin said.

It was Swoopes' fifth All-Star game and the Houston Comets star was out to show she still has what it takes.

"I wanted to represent not just for the old players but for the experienced players," Swoopes said.

Joined by son

Also, her 8-year-old son, Jordan, who joined his mom at center court immediately after the game, told her in the morning she would win the MVP -- the first one for Swoopes, one of the league's founding players.

Minnesota's Katie Smith added 16 points, hitting 4-of-6 3-pointers, and Los Angeles' Chamique Holdsclaw added 14 for the West. Sacramento's Yolanda Griffith had a team-high 14 rebounds.

Nolan led the East with 20 points. Indiana's Tamika Catchings and New York's Becky Hammon finished with 18 points each.

"I think we came out and we were really motivated, very inspired to play this game -- especially with all the talk about East vs. West," Catchings said. "Unfortunately, we let the game get away from us."




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